Frank

His name was Frank.  His torso made out of a spice can that used to hold cinnamon.  His head was the ball from an IBM Selectric typewriter with a neck made of the red cap from a plastic bottle of Coke.  His legs came from a wooden clothes pin, clippy variety, separated into its two component pieces.  His feet were white dominos—both sixes.  He had a hat made from half a tea ball.

29 responses to “Frank

  1. No one ever asked about the small toy on the bottom shelf of the oriel window that jutted from the seaside gift shop, the window that occasionally impeded tourist traffic that strolled along the boardwalk from tourist trap to tourist trap. The Schilling cinnamon spice can body had long ago faded so much it was almost unreadable, and the red cap from a plastic Coke bottle was now a dull pinkish-white.

    So seldom had the figurine been touched that dust filled the tiny dots on the dominos that made up its feet, and you had to look carefully and squint a little to see the six dots on each domino. The separated wooden clothes pin that made up its legs was almost gray. Only its head, the ball from a Selectric typewriter, remain as shiny as the day some unknown person had assembled these various pieces.

    Eliana, the owner of Bayside Boardwalk Curiosities, called the odd figurine “Frank.” A small tag attached by a thin string read, “Handmade in Orca Bay.” There was no price on the tag because Eliana knew that she should not sell the thing, but knew it only by instinct, or what she called her knowy-sense.

    What would happen if she did sell it, she didn’t know, she simply knew it belonged in the shop, and so she kept it in the near corner of the oriel window, on the bottom shelf, behind a large jug with an impossibly large three-masted sailing ship inside of it. Customers entering the shop would wander past the window, gazing at the eclectic items for sale, never seeing the figurine.

    Eliana didn’t think she was superstitious. Her up-bringing smacked that right out of her, but she did have a problem with Frank’s domino feet and the six previously-white holes in the black wood. Six and six, she thought. An errant offshore breeze slipped through the crack in the oak door that never did shut tightly, and Eliana shuddered at the sudden chill. Fact is, you couldn’t really tell they were dominos because they just looked like two black rectangles.

    As I said earlier, no one had ever asked about Frank. That is, not until last Friday, but then Friday was an odd day anyway, or at least odd for this part of the peninsula where almost nothing newsworthy ever happened unless Jay Marley’s horses got out and trampled Bessie Beebonnet’s strawberry gardens again, which they did last Friday, just to start things off.

    A while later, Simon Beaucamp arrived at the tavern and said his old mule sure did seem to be carrying a foal, but he was laughed out of the tavern because everyone knows mules are sterile and can’t reproduce. Then ‘round noon-time, the folks over at town hall missed fifteen minutes of their lunch hour because the bell in the church steeple didn’t ring at 12 o’clock. No one could ever remember the bell not ringing ever since C.J. Jones had turned everything automatic what with his new degree in electronic engineering from some school that advertised on the back of matchbooks, which was how C.J. even heard of it. He did all his coursework by mail after he passed his aptitude test with flying colors, as the letter from the school attested and which C.J. had framed and hung over the kitchen table in his mother’s house.

    Mid-afternoon the townsfolk noticed the tourists all heading to their cars or their rooms in the local hotels or the myriad B&Bs that dotted the grassy rise over the town. Cyrus Banks at the barber shop walked out onto the boardwalk to see why the tourists were leaving on such a fine afternoon. After looking up and down the street and seeing nothing but un-opened wallets and unused credit cards disappearing, he shrugged and turned back to his shop.

    That’s when he caught a glimpse of the black storm front rolling up the bay towards town. “Hoo-whee,” said Cyrus. “That is gonna be some frog-strangler!” The words were no sooner out of his mouth than the first fat drops of rain spattered on his bald pate.

    Two hours later, most of the boardwalk shops were closed and shuttered. The electricity was out, the phones were dead, and there wasn’t a soul on the street. An eerie darkness blanketed the town.

    Eliana drew the shades in the far window and walked towards the front door when a spot of bright red caught her eye as she passed the oriel window. She looked again. Frank’s bottle cap neck was the color of bright red blood. She looked carefully and saw the six white domino dots glowing against the black wood. Then she noticed the Schilling label was brilliant gold against the red can.

    Odd, she thought. I wonder if the window is leaking air and brushed the dust off Frank. But then she realized that wouldn’t account for the brightness of the no-longer-faded colors.

    Must be just the light from this freak storm, she though, and headed for the front door to turn the “open” sign over and lock the door, when it seemed to open of its own accord. She stopped her approach as the door creaked slowly on its brass hinges. Her hand went to her throat, almost involuntarily, and she stood there wondering why she was, well, admit it, she was afraid.

    Wind just blew that ol’ door in, is all, she told herself. Oughta get Billy Bottoms over here to fix it.

    She started towards the door again just as a small wet child edged into the shop, leaving tiny footprints on the carpet runner.

    Oh, dear, thought Eliana. Some poor child is out in this terrible storm.

    “Can I help you, dear,” said Eliana.

    For a moment the child didn’t seem to have heard her and Eliana moved closer. She saw a wrinkled hand reach out from a long sleeve and at first thought the child had prune skin from being wet for a long time. Then the child turned its face toward her and Eliana realized that this was no child, but a wizened man of unnaturally small stature. She saw only his black eyes, eyes with no depth, no sense of a living soul behind them. Just black.

    Her hand jerked back to her throat.

    “I’ve come for Frank,” he said.

    “I… I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you?”

    “I’ve come for Frank.”

    “Frank?”

    “In the oriel window. Frank.”

    “But how did you know its name? I’ve never told anyone I call that toy Frank.”

    “Huh. Silly woman. He’s mine.”

    “What do you mean? He’s been in this store as long as I’ve owned it and that’s been thir..”

    “He’s mine. I’ve come for him.”

    “I don’t know what to say. I purchased the store and all the inventory. The figurine was part of it. I can offer it for a nice price, though, since it’s such a horrid day to be out shopping.”

    “I’m not buying. I’m taking. It’s mine.”

    “Well, how do I know that? I don’t, that’s how. I’m not about to let someone walk in and declare a piece of merchandise is theirs and then just allow them to walk out with it. How long do you think I’d be in business if I countenanced that?”

    The man said nothing as he reached into his pocket and withdrew something small. He held out his hand, holding a small object so Eliana couldn’t see what it was. She held out her hand and the dark thing landed in her palm.

    Elaina took one look as gasped. Then she stood rooted in place as the creature snatched Frank from the oriel window where it had been for decades. He tucked Frank into an inside pocket and left, closing the door behind him.

    If the phones had been working, if the power had been on, if there had been anyone else on the dark, rain-slashed street, Eliana would have called for help. But there was no help for Eliana that peculiar night.

    All she could do was turn over the black rectangle in her palm and stare at the six white dots on the domino.

    Six. Six. Six. Even Eliana with her no-nonsense up-bringing knew that was the mark of the Beast.

    • Why do I never see all the typos until AFTER it’s posted here?

      • Frank as fetish! Frank as evil voodoo doll! Good one, Gullie. I liked the foreshadowing early on of the six and six. Eliana is a character you might keep. She could easily make an appearance in other stories you write. And she has that domino now.

  2. Jasper Parley was what you’d call a gossip. Not to his face, mind you, because he would have been mighty offended by such an accusation.

    “Gossips is what them ladies over to Sue Ellen’s Beauty Shop are,” Jasper would’ve said, then snickered and made some lame joke about them wasting their time at a “beauty” shop, “‘cause they never looked any better when they came out, you ask me. Waste a time and money.”

    But Jasper was a gossip nonetheless, and everyone in town knew it. Every morning promptly at 9 o’clock, Jasper would tell his wife Birgit that he had important business in town and drive off in his 1946 Studebaker truck. He’d park next to Edgar Ransom’s hardware store, then cross the street to the café, slide into a booth, and order coffee—black–from JoEllen, the cute little waitress who was working her way through community college in the next town over.

    Pretty soon he’d be joined by any number of the movers and shakers and ne’er-do-wells of the town, all of them there to gossip, except they’d refer to it as shootin’-the-bull or catching up on important town events. When JoEllen brought his coffee, he’d order a cruller to go with it, never before, only after she’d brought the coffee.

    JoEllen would return to the counter where she had already dished up the cruller, because he did this every single day as long as she’d worked there, and that was already eight months. Time flies, she laughed to herself.

    Today Jasper was joined by Ed from the hardware store, and Ross, the town’s unofficial mayor. A few minutes later, Cyrus Banks, who owned the barber shop, plopped himself down in the last seat at the booth.

    “Hey ya, Cyrus,” said Jasper. “How ya doing’ with that Eliana in the shop next to yers?”

    “Ain’t nothing doing there, Jasper. I told you that before. She’s a bit peculiar, way I see it.”

    “I heard she’s gotten even more odd,” said Jasper. “Had her shop closed all weekend, ever since that storm on Friday. Likely slipped a cog.”

    “No reason a lady can’t take a weekend off, Jasper,” said Cyrus. “’Bout the end of the tourist season anyways.”

    “Aw, no. Deer hunters’ll be ‘round for a few weeks.”

    “Deer hunters don’t shop at the Bayside Boardwalk Curiosities, Jasper. They shop at the liquor store and grocery. By the way, any of you ever been in that shop? Ever see anything curious? Wonder why she calls it ‘Curiosities.’”

    Jasper didn’t answer. Ed and Ross said they’d never been in that shop, but their wives went in on occasion. A silence engulfed the men as they sipped their coffee. No one glancing at them would have noticed how carefully they avoided looking at each other, just sat there sipping their coffee and looking down at their hands.

    “Reckon I better be going,” said Jasper, laying down two dollars for his coffee and cruller, and adding a quarter tip for the cute little waitress. “Got some things to patch up after that storm. Gully-washer, it was, huh?” The other three nodded in agreement.

    Jasper jay-walked across the street towards his truck, dropped ten cents in the newspaper rack outside the hardware store, and started down the boardwalk, side-stepping the oriel window in Eliana’s gift shop. As casually as he could, Jasper glanced at the bottom shelf in the oriel window, looking for the peculiar figurine behind the ship-in-a-bottle.

    It was gone. That drew Jasper up with a jolt. Gone! His good luck charm wasn’t in the window. He leaned over and searched behind the bottle. He looked at the top shelf. The spice can man with the clothes pin legs was nowhere to be seen.

    Maybe she put it somewhere else, Jasper thought and turned towards the shop door. He had his hand on the door latch before he saw the “Closed” sign in the window.

    Dang-nabbit! Thought Jasper. Gosh darn nabbit!

    Jasper realized he was shaking and his breathing was shallow and rapid. He opened the newspaper to the last page of the sports section and searched the tiny print. There it was, “Santa Anita Results.”

    Jasper closed his eyes and took a deep breath, then looked at the black words.

    “No! No! No, no, no!” said Jasper. “No, please, no.” He stared at the print, trying to make the numbers read the way he wanted. He’d bet the sixth horse in the sixth race, as always, just like the dominos on the figurine’s feet.

    He’d won so many times, he was sure of it. Only a few dollars at first, then a five here and a ten there. Week after week, always a winner, never a loser.

    Friday afternoon while the storm was battering the town, Jasper had parked in front of the hardware store and jay-walked across the street, like always. Only this time, same as he did every Friday afternoon, Jasper passed the café, turned the corner and went to the alley behind the tavern. Slipping in an unmarked door, he plopped down $12,383, his entire life savings, on the sixth horse in the sixth race at Santa Anita on Monday.

    The horse came in dead last.

  3. Cyrus Banks said good day to his tablemates, paid his check, and walked to the door of Tillie’s Diner. Just before he pushed glass door open, he saw Jasper Parlay opening a newspaper across the street.

    Must be looking at the race results, thought Cyrus. Everybody in town knew Jasper played the ponies, though he would have denied it had anyone bothered to ask. Man’s business is a man’s business, Cyrus believed. It’s one thing to pass on news about the locals, but quite another to stick your nose in like you were trying to make yourself part of it.

    As Cyrus watched, Jasper suddenly looked like his dog had just died. Well, actually, Jasper’s dog had died not too long ago under suspicious circumstances and all his neighbors were glad they were finally rid of the egg-sucking varmint, which made it even more suspicious. Cyrus stepped out onto the boardwalk and acted like he was looking up and down the street, all the while keeping watch of Jasper. Ed and Ross came out of the diner and joined him.

    “What ya doing, Cyrus?” asked Ross.

    “Oh, not much. Just looking to see if there’s any potential customers about,” answered Cyrus.

    “What’s going on with Jasper over there? Looks like he got kicked in the head by Beaucamp’s pregnant mule,” snickered Ed.

    “Dunno,” said Cyrus. “I rightly don’t know. Maybe his horse came in last this time.”

    “Yep,” said Ross with a guffaw. “That’s prob’ly it. He’s been on a winning streak so long he likely never thought of losing someday.”

    “Gentlemen,” said Cyrus, “Gotta go. Almost ten o’clock. Time to open shop.” He walked across the street as Jasper got into his old truck and laid his head on the steering wheel. Cyrus tapped on the truck’s window.

    Jasper jerked upright like he was expecting the devil.

    “You okay, Jasper? You don’t look so well.”

    “Yeah, I…uh.. indigestion, I reckon. Yeah, maybe oughta start using cream in my coffee. Tone it down some, you know.”

    “Yep, that’d be a good idea, Jasper. Sure you’re okay? Wanna come in the shop and sit for a spell?”

    ‘Naw, naw. I’m right fine. See ya, Cyrus,” said Jasper as he backed out of the angle parking space and popped the clutch. The truck jerked forward and swerved a bit before he got it under control and drove slowly towards the cut-off to his home.

    Cyrus watched until the truck turned the corner, then unlocked the barbershop door. He flipped the switch that turned on the light inside the candy-striped barber pole mounted outside. He took his light blue barber’s smock off the hanger, put it on, and checked his day’s supply of scissors and combs. He picked up his straight razor and sharpened it on the leather strop.

    Then he sat down in the chair to await the first of the dozen customers that would enter his shop that day. Every day, like clockwork, a dozen men came in for cuts and shaves. Been like that for so long, Cyrus rarely thought of what a coincidence it was. Never ten or eleven or fourteen. Exactly twelve.

    The hours dragged on and Cyrus jerked awake, dropping the Field and Stream magazine from his lap. He looked at the big wall clock over the mirror. Five o’clock! Where has the day gone, wondered Cyrus.

    Then he realized he hadn’t had a single customer all day. “Well, I’ll be,” he said. “Guess there’s a first time for everything.”

    Cyrus considered himself a solid person, salt of the earth, honest and fair to everyone he encountered. He went to the Lutheran church every Sunday morning and dropped a twenty in the offering plate. Wednesday nights after closing shop, he volunteered at the community library for three hours, and went to the Little League baseball games on Friday nights at the elementary school ball field.

    Cyrus’s wife had died many years before, and for a long while he’d never thought of finding another. But lately, Eliana from next door had been on his mind, not that he’d ever have the courage to do anything about it. She was a fine looker, Cyrus admitted to himself, shiny black hair and a figure like Sophia Loren. Seemed to have a good business sense about her, too, what with keeping that shop going for so long.

    He waited until six, then turned off the barber pole light, hung his clean smock on a hanger, and locked the door behind him. He headed down the boardwalk towards home, passing by Eliana’s Bayside Boardwalk Curiosity. He stepped out to avoid the oriel window, then stopped.

    Something didn’t look quite right. Cyrus took a step backwards and looked at the items in the window. Fancy tea set on the top shelf, book by a local author on the bottom next to the intricate three-masted sailing ship in the bottle. He couldn’t quite put his finger on what was different, but Cyrus knew something was wrong.

    He walked over to the door and saw the closed sign, and wondered if Eliana was feeling poorly and maybe that was why her shop had been closed since Friday’s storm. He leaned in close and tried to peer around the shade, but the inside was too dark to see anything.

    Cyrus started walking away and then a thought hit him. He turned back to the oriel window and checked.

    It was gone! The silly toy made of a spice can, clothes pin, and an old typewriter ball was no longer propped behind the ship bottle.

    But most of all, Cyrus realized as his stomach dropped to his feet, the two domino feet– both sixes–were also gone.

  4. A week had gone by since that Friday afternoon storm had knocked out power to Bayside. A crew from the power company had gone to work as soon as the gale-force winds had died down, and the electricity was back on by midnight.

    But something was different about his town, and Sheriff Chester Higgins knew it. What it was, he couldn’t put his finger on, he simply sensed a discrepancy in the way things had always been.

    Try as he might, C.J. Jones couldn’t get the church bell to ring at noon, though he’d used all the latest electronic technology to program it. And the Bayside Boardwalk Curiosity shop hadn’t been open all week. Higgins made a mental note to check on Eliana Lills, make sure she was okay. He’d also noticed the barbershop had been oddly quiet, though Cyrus Banks had been there every day.

    Higgins drove out to Simon Beaucamp’s mule ranch after he’d heard Beaucamp had been laughed out of The Lucky Irish tavern for saying his mule was pregnant. He pulled his patrol car up by the pasture and looked over the animals grazing on a near hillside. Beaucamp’s mules were famous all over these parts for being strong and disease-resistant as well as gentle and easy to train.

    He saw Beaucamp come out of the barn and got out to meet him.

    “Hey,” said Higgins.

    “Howdy,” answered Beaucamp. “Help you, Sheriff?”

    “Nope, just passing by. Stopped to admire your mules. How’s things going up here, Simon?”

    “You’re here about my pregnant hinny, ain’t you, Sheriff?”

    “Oh, no, Simon. Like I said, just passing by.”

    “No such thing as passing by, Sheriff. This here’s a dead end road. You want to see the hinny, foller me.”

    Higgins swallowed his pride and followed Higgins through the barn to a small corral behind it where a mule with an enormous belly dozed in the warm sunshine.

    “Whoa,” said Higgins. “She sure does look like she’s about to foal. Huh. Maybe you got a mare that just looks like a hinny.”

    Beaucamp didn’t answer immediately He plucked a long blade of grass and stuck it in his mouth. He looked the sheriff up and down. “I been raising mules longer than you been walking, Sheriff. Don’t try to tell me I don’t know mules from horses.”

    “Simon, no, no. I meant no offense. Honest. It’s just… Well, it’s not possible…”

    “I KNOW it ain’t possible, Sheriff. That’s why I had the vet’nary up here soon as I saw that hinny all swelled up last Friday morning. Seemed to come on all of a sudden just afore that big storm Friday, so I thought she was sick. That’s why I called the vet’nary. He did a preg test on her and felt a leg. You don’t believe me, you go ask Henry yourself. I don’t care what anybody thinks. I got me some pregnant mules.”

    “Mules? Mules? As in more than one?”

    Beaucamp looked away like he was reluctant to meet the sheriff’s eyes. He scuffed his boot in the dust, chewed on the grass stem, and took a dirty bandana from his hip pocket and wiped his forehead.

    “Yeah,” he mumbled.

    “Simon….”

    “I know. You think it easy to talk ‘bout this?”

    “I understand, Simon. I do. How many?”

    Beaucamp mumbled again, then stomped away, leaving the sheriff with his mouth agape. Higgins took one more look at the swollen hinny and walked back to his car. He leaned on the door frame and looked out over the pasture again. The mules were closer now and Higgins could see several mules with large bellies.

    He got the binoculars out of the console and scanned the herd. He counted ten mules that could be carrying. He set the binoculars down on the seat just as another mule came over the rise.

    Higgins scoped the new mule and saw the huge belly sticking out on either side. Eleven, he said. Eleven pregnant mules.

    Add that to the one on the corral, that’s make an even dozen, the sheriff realized.

    • Wow, Gully. You’re on a roll. I am thoroughly enjoying this eerie tale. Great job of creating the mood. Awaiting the next chapter. Well done.

    • Wow, Gullie. What’s going on? Did the Muse chain you to the keyboard and slap you upside the head with some dominos each time you thought you were done? Whatever is going on, I sincerely hope it continues. I have to admit I never know what is going to latch onto you and get the words flowing. Looks like Frank is magical guy for you! Did I mention Frank is carrying a small red and metal bird call?

      Wonderful stuff. More! More!

      • I am engaged in a long, oneroushomeowner’s chore and can find any number of excuses why I need to go do something else immediately. Actually, Frank is a fruitful prompt.

      • I’ve decided that “onerous homeowner’s chore” is good bricolage fodder. I’m picturing you stacking a cord of wood that Jerry Pickler dumped in your driveway. (He is happy to share his wood, but he just won’t stack it.) Or, maybe you’re canning tomatoes before the first frost. You love them in the winter, but canning has gotten very old. Or, maybe you’re washing the storm windows before they go up for fall. Tarring the driveway? Staining your deck? Raking leaves? Cleaning the gutters? Be careful on that ladder, girl!

        Hey, Gullie. Don’t forget Eliana still has that domino!

  5. Each time they left me I’d steal a little piece of them. Each piece I stole represented them in some way.

    Abner wore his yarmulke twenty four hours a day. He enjoyed proudly displaying his Jewishness. He wanted everyone to call him Abe so people would think it was short for Abraham. According to his best friends – Immanuel, Joshua and Rachel – Abner didn’t sound Jewish enough. When he discovered I wasn’t Jewish he dumped me, but not before I stole his favorite tea ball that his sister-in-law gave to him after he complained for the umpteenth time that the waiters at her favorite restaurant didn’t know how to make a decent cup of tea. He had carried it everywhere.

    Bob was a heady guy. He loved to write and said I was getting in the way of his creative juices. As I walked out Bob’s door I was able to snatch the ball from his IBM Selectric typewriter. As he chased after me he screamed about how he couldn’t write without his precious ancient typewriter. But while he was writing I trained for marathons. He didn’t stand a chance.

    Carlton loved to cook. As our relationship grew so did his girth turning him into a waistless, shapeless form. Though his bananas foster was a favorite of mine my marathon training kept me looking svelte. When he said I was getting too skinny for him I took his $15 bottle of cinnamon that he bought at the gourmet shop that closed last summer. He had blubbered about losing the one store where he could get his special cinnamon. I wonder how Carlton’s famous bananas foster will taste without it.

    Dave’s grandmother had a laundering service for the wealthy long before clothes dryers became common in homes. He loved playing in the sheets and would steel wooden clothespins every chance he got. Now he had them all over his apartment – on the fridge for magnets, hangars for ties, holding up curtains, even a miniature clothesline hanging over his desk that he used to display his bills. I discovered that he always carried one around in case of emergency. He pulled one out at dinner and used it to keep his shirt closed where he lost a button. He thought he was clever but I was able to take his favorite vintage clothespin when he realized I used clothespins in the colorful plastic variety. He said I wasn’t a purist. I thought he might chase me down but his skinny peg
    legs wouldn’t keep up with me anyway.

    Eddie, what can I say about Eddie? He’s a good old rednecky kind of guy and didn’t own much or do much of anything. I dumped him because I got tired of coke and takeout pizza for dinner. I took a coke cap because like I said he didn’t have much.

    Frank loved a good game of dominoes. I didn’t know how to play so we didn’t last past two dates. I played my own game of hide and seek with the double six dominoes from his game sets. I didn’t much care for his wide flat feet anyway.

    I stared at my souvenirs thinking I could use a couple of q tips to bring it all together. Hm, I think I saw my skinny-armed neighbor George buying some at the grocery store the other day.

  6. I love this. Great imagination.

  7. Good way to put together the little man! Love the neighbor. It looks like this was great fun to write. I’m for that! Write more!

  8. Okay, Ann, I’m going to give you my reality version of an onerous homeowner’s chore, but I don’t think you’ll believe me.

    Stacking a cord of wood? No, but I wish it were only that. I had a truckload of logs delivered last year. I bucked, split (with a gas powered splitter), and stacked six cords in the woodshed I built myself a couple decades ago.

    No canning tomatoes– don’t grow them anymore.
    No storm windows–all my windows are double-paned.
    No tarring the driveway–it’s gravel.
    No staining the deck–did that last year.
    No raking leaves–not yet, and I use my lawnmower tractor to pick them up.
    Cleaning the gutters–done.

    This is where you have to suspend disbelief: I am using a 4″ angle grinder with a sanding disc(make that very plural discs) to sand off all the finish on the log siding on my house. I did one wall last year. This summer I am working on two walls, and have been since the end of June when tendonitis in my elbow got so bad I could no longer use the grab stick to pick up litter, much less a glass of water. I had covered 40 miles of highway by that time, filled 310 bags, and decided to give the elbow a break and finish the final 10 miles after the elbow healed. I have spent the last six weeks working on the sanding/refinishing job. My house is two-stories 2200 sq. feet plus a two-car garage, all covered in log siding.

    As for ladders, wish I could send you a photo of the “scaffolding” I built using a plank and two ladders. In another week or so, three sides of the house will be done with three coats of finish applied, weather permitting.

    I saved the worst wall for last. I have not figured out how I am going to get almost thirty feet off the ground to grind off the old finish.

    I am tired of sawdust in my ears, mouth, eyes, nose. I am covered with sawdust. My yard is covered with sawdust. My house is covered with sawdust. Escaping to the computer is a blessed relief, but I have got to get this chore done. By early September, it will be getting too chilly to apply the new finish.

    As I said, an onerous homeowner’s chore.

    PS: I’ll be 71 in three months.

  9. PPS: Eliana is hiding in her closet with the domino.

  10. PPPS: There’s sawdust in the closet, too.

  11. Me again. I mentioned my age because you would think I’m old enough to know better. Right?

  12. Gully, you’re amazing. I’m a little more than half your age, who am I kidding, my math skills are fading slowly with menopause. I’m 45 but I have about a quarter of the energy and drive you have. I get distracted from chores like vaccuuming. I really need to be by myself for a week to get anything done or have someone keep me company. Unfortunately my hubby is even more distracted from chores. Forget about a honey do list. I had one that kept getting longer and longer but I got frustrated when I couldn’t cross anything off. Your writing inspres me hopefully you can inspire me to complete some chores as well. Good luck with your project and please be very careful.

  13. I am more than duly impressed. Yes I believe you, but it did cause a raised eyebrow or two. Thirty feet up, huh? I’d hire someone to do that one wall. Go to your local community college, continuing education department and offer to teach a course in something (blogging? creative writing?). They’ll pay you a percentage of the tuition for each person who signs up. Then you can pay the guy who does that last wall. Good trade off, plus you’d be a great teacher.

    No 30 foot scaffolding after 70!

    • No community college anywhere near. I think I can get pretty close to the top with my extension ladder. Might have to borrow a longer ladder. I did pick up a lighter-weight grinder that is making the job a bit easier, plus I can lock the trigger on. That and the tendonitis was a problem with the old grinder because I had to keep the trigger (like a couple inch wide bar) constantly depressed with some force, something my right elbow objected to. I can also borrow some real scaffolding, but I would still have to use a ladder on top of that. Maybe ladder jacks and planks….

      I did give myself today off. No sawdust in the ears tonight for a change. 🙂

  14. I should clarify something. It is not for financial reasons I’m doing this for myself, though every dollar I pay someone else means a dollar I can’t use for travel. I did try to locate a company 65 miles away that used to “sandblast” with corn cobs to remove old finish, but they are no longer doing that. The problem where I live is that it is a very small town, and not much available in the way of handymen who would take on a job like this. The way I see it is it’s a job that needs to be done so I’m doing it.

  15. Gullie — I’ve never seen your muse let loose quite like this before. I want to know what happens next with Eliana, the pregnant mules, and how Frank uses that red metal bird call. I couldn’t stop reading (and there is no higher compliment to a writer).

    p.s. I know this is a dumber than dirt question, but what was wrong with the old finish?

  16. First, the characters have yet to clue me in on what happens next. And thanks for the compliment. I got caught up in the action also, but it’s a reversal of me and jokes–I remember the punch lines but not the jokes. This time I know the story but not the ending.

    Second, the old finish was Behr Rawhide. I didn’t know until I bought a dealer’s last 15 gallons (for the fourth and final coat) that there was a class action lawsuit because Rawhide failed. Too late for me. I’m working on a post, in between bouts of sawdust, and will have photos to show what’s happened over the years to the siding.

  17. Meanwhile, back at the original post…

    His name was Frank. His torso was made out of a spice can that once held cinnamon. His head was the ball from an IBM Selectric typewriter set on a neck made of the red cap from a plastic Coke bottle. His legs were from a wooden clothes pin, clippy variety, separated into its two component pieces. His feet were white dominos—both sixes. He wore a hat made from half a tea ball.

    “Hi, stranger,” she said, looking him up and down as he entered the bar. “You’re not like the usual guys we get in here. What’s your story?”

    “I’m the never-seen saviour of a traveling repertory company that performs Shakespeare exceedingly badly,” he replied.

    She frowned. “Say what?”

    “Indeed,” he said. “I’m a prompt of many parts.”

  18. Gullie, Ann, Beth and Figmince….I’M EXHAUSTED…BUT EXCEEDINGLY ENTERTAINED. This is a really stupid question Gully, but why not use Sherman-Williams house paint? I bet we don’t have one rawhide covered house in all of Indiana. Are hides easier to come by than going to Sears Paint Dept? Just curious.

  19. A rabbit, a priest, FigMince, and a guy made out of a spice can with a typewriter ball for a head came into a bar….

    This is the kind or prompt that ends up making me feel punchy!

    Behr should be outlawed. I used some Behr “opaque stain” (isn’t that an oxymoron?) once on lawn furniture that immediately began to peel. As it turns out, I think Gullie’s sanding job is also a great prompt!

    • There once was a gal from Alaska
      Who wanted her chore to go fasta,
      When she fell from the ladder
      It no longer mattered
      ‘Cuz her bones broke like angel hair pasta.

  20. The gal that we mentioned before
    Was stuck with an onerous chore.
    She sanded her house
    With a grinder and Mouse,
    And believed her summer “a bore.”

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